Blood and Fear

Fear. It could be felt deep in my bones. I was on patrol by myself. No partner. There simply were not enough officers to work in teams. Since Dark Day, hundreds of officers had been killed or disappeared. More seemed to just disappear every day. There was not an officer left in the Newark Police who was not scared to go out. No one wanted to go out at night. Still, someone had to go out at night and try to fight the rising tide of crime and destruction. That someone was me tonight. I felt I was helping a little although sometimes if felt like I was sticking my finger in the hole while the whole dam crumbles around me.

At one time, I loved my job. Maybe I had not made detective but I had loved being a police officer. It was like a sad memory now though. I was patrolling the West Side, one of the most dangerous areas of town and there was only a pair of other officers patrolling this area of the city. I had my Smith and Wesson nine millimeter automatic and wore my bullet proof vest. Still, they gave little comfort. Even with the increase in crime, police budgets had shrunk and the police car I was driving should have been long replaced. It was a clunker which I was worried might decide to break down at any time.

Suddenly, I saw a group of what looked like black Gang-Bangers. They all appeared to be males and I counted a total of six. The politically correct term would probably be "African American Youths" but a cop knows when she sees punks. They were young. I pegged the oldest as maybe being seventeen with some of the younger being only thirteen or fourteen.

Dressed in ragged clothing and gaunt, it looked like they were messing with the metal gate protecting the front of a convenience store which was dark, obviously closed for the night. Maybe they were trying to break in for beer or maybe cigarettes. Many stores which had previously been open twenty-four hours now closed at night fall. Most store owners were afraid to go out at night and closed much earlier than they had before.

From the way they were acting, I could only wonder what drug the could be on. Crack, maybe. Meth, possibly. There had been a huge upsurge in Meth with several drug makers somehow acquiring the equipment to make amphetamine. I pulled up to them and expected them to scatter. Instead, they just continued fighting with the metal gate. Warning bells should have gone off in my head when they did not run when they saw me. One turned to watch me, looking through strange eyes like I had never seen before. It almost appeared that his eyes were glowing. Of course it was a trap. It was their chance to get even with the cops that had harassed them for most of their life.

I called for backup in a shaky voice and was told from dispatch that backup was unavailable. It figured. Backup seemed to never be available these days. Not having much choice, I climbed out of my cruiser. As soon as the door was closed, I stated, "Freeze, you are under arrest" with my hand on my Smith automatic and the holster unsnapped. There was enough distance that they could not charge me before I got my gun drawn. That is what I thought at least.

They turned at one towards me. Usually, there is a fear in the eyes of street punks when you confront them but they looked at me with a hungry expression. I had never seen anything like that before. Seconds later, they formed a circle around me. I had never seen anyone move as fast as they seemed too. I drew my pistol and pointed it against the closest one. I yelled, "Get down on the ground."

One, the leader of them I know now, crouched and opened his mouth in a hiss. Incredibly long canines like I had never seen before. They were like I had seen in vampire movies. Reports or not, I was in fear for my life. I fired at him. I could see a hole in his clothing and him step back but nothing more. I continued firing. The bullets did absolutely nothing and the pistol's slide locked pack on the last round. Fifteen rounds and he had nothing more than some holes in his clothing.

I reloaded and turned to another gang member who was stalking me. Reloading was second nature after police training. Like with the first gang member, my pistol was completely useless. I fired fifteen rounds into him as well with the bullets doing no more than ripping holes in his clothing. It was impossible but I could see it with my own eyes. Panic was setting in like I never felt before. It threatened to paralyze me and it took all my will to fight against it.

Two gang members came from behind and grabbed my arms. I tried to fight them but it was like fighting steel cables. I worked out regularly including having been on a female boxing team and could hold my own with almost anyone, man or woman. While they appeared emaciated, I had never met anyone as strong as these punks. It felt like they were pulling my shoulders out of their sockets. I kept trying to fight them but it was useless. Still, it would be better to go down fighting than to just submit.

The leader stepped in front of me, "Bitch Cop, I think my homies and me are going to enjoy ourselves. A pretty one right now but wait until we get done with you." His hand slapped me in the face and it felt like I was hit by a brick. Everything faded to a ringing sensation although I thought I heard someone in the background, "Bring her. I have some treats in store for her."

My eyes opened. I looked around and saw that I was on the bed in a cheap motel room. Beside me, Thomas McBride, my present lover laid. We had been lovers for almost two months now. It had just been a dream. It had been a nightmare. Actually it was a flashback from when I became a Wampyr. The day that I stopped being Police Officer Gabriella Knight of the Newark Police Department. Such nightmares had not bothered me in a long time and I thought I had gotten over it but it did not look like I had in truth.

Thomas looked over at me. Obviously I had been thrashing around in my sleep and had woken him up as a result. "Gabriella, Are you alright?" Thomas asked. "You were moving around the bed like you were fighting someone." There was obvious concern in his voice.

"Nightmare from when I changed," I answered him. "I don't want to talk about it now." To me it sounded like my voice was a bit wavering and I was having a lot of trouble maintaining my calm. Why now, I had to ask myself. I sat up on the edge of the bed trying to get my wits about me. It was still pretty early, maybe eleven in the morning. I could not leave the motel until nightfall without being in constant burning pain from the sun. As a Wampyr, I was less effected by the sun than a true vampire but the sun still burned.

I forestalled any further comments by sliding over to him and running my hands over his bare chest. Thomas could not be called a true body builder but his chest was still wonderful. He had gotten his build as a lumberjack in his youth from what he told me. Of course, that was almost two hundred years ago. He was a Nightbane. A supernatural creature who transform from a normal human into a powerful and alien looking creature. It was believed that they were immortal unless killed in battle or due to an accident. There were suppose to be Nightbane who were over a thousand years old although I had never met one. Thomas transformed into a giant humanoid bear with metal claws. I had never seen a Nightbane as dangerous as him although I had heard stories.

"After such a nightmare, I cannot see being able to go to sleep right away," and nestled against him. A slow kiss showed that we were both in the mood for some love making. For such a strong man, his hands were incredibly gentle as he cupped my breasts. Probably he was the most skilled man I have ever been with. Of course, being over a century and a half old and having six wives and who knows how many girl friends over that time makes for an incredible amount of practice.

The love making allowed me to forget about my nightmare. There was nothing except for him and I in our passions. Exhausted, I drifted off to sleep. Wrapped in his arms, I felt safe and secure.

The sun was down and it was time to start my day. Black Leather, like usual, was the order of the day. Black lace thong under tight black leather pants and a similar tight black leather corset. Completing the outfit, black leather boots and a black leather trench coat. Before becoming a Wampyr, I would not have worn anything this revealing but I knew I looked good in it especially how it set off my black hair and dark eyes. It also made me feel like a hunter and I thought it made me look dangerous. The admiring glances I got from Thomas showed that I looked good. I gave him a smile back but we could not delay too much.

Thomas and I were in Independence, Missouri to deal with a new group of vampires which just seemed to appear from nowhere. Most famous for being where President Truman came from, it had a fairly moderate population, only being a little over one hundred thousand residence. We had followed scattered rumors of a master vampire trying to take over the entire state of Missouri and had traced him back to Independence itself. There had been a huge number of disappearances in and around the city. As well, a small group of vampires which had all come from Independence had taken down by us. Probably because it is fairly small, Independence had never been a major target of the Nightlords and was one of the more normal places remaining. Crime was much higher than it had been before Dark Day but was still much lower than most other cities. It seemed most likely the city either had only a single comparatively weak Nightlord or a single Night Prince.

Still, Vampires can be potentially just as dangerous as Nightlords and their minions. Since the time which the master vampire took control in the city, the murder rate appeared to have increased around ten fold with many people simply vanishing. It was hard to know how many of them were being transformed into vampires but it was potentially in the hundreds if not thousands. Still, the master seemed to have been extremely careful because there appeared to be no wild vampires wandering around. Thomas and I had discussed earlier the possibility that this was a staging point for an attempt to wrestle control of the country from the Nightlords.

My MAC-10 submachine-guns were hidden in Thomas's beat up Bronco but I had the Colt forty-five which I had acquired recently. While I had been comfortable with a nine millimeter when I had been a cop, I now wanted something with more knockdown down. To deal with vampires, I had my pistol loaded with silver tipped rounds. Silver, unlike normal rounds, worked quite well against vampires. Thomas also carried a pistol but in his case a Ruger Super Redhawk in .454 Casull. It was one of the most powerful pistol cartridges in the world. He did not like firearms very much, preferring to use his abilities as a huge bear but the weapon fit him as well as any. A weapon which could take down a bear if needed and loaded with silver rounds was capable of taking down vampires quite nicely as well.

The plan was simple, I would pretend to be a secondary vampire with Thomas pretending to be my human thrall or mind controlled slave. I would simply alter my aura to hide what I was. We would simply drift through the clubs to trawl for other vampires posing as a vampire from another master who wishes to join forces with their creator. As a Wampyr, I am completely immune to a vampire's mind control so I just need to be careful what I said.

As might be expected, the best place to start was a Goth bar. There were several even in Independence. The one I selected first was called "Club Crimson." The name seemed promising to be the hangout of vampires. Still, it was just like other Goth bars which I had hung out. The skinny pale bodies, the morose players, and the dark music. People in love with evil and death. Even if it was not the actual hangout of vampires, I should be able to find a fang banger. That is someone who is a willing donor of blood. Some people enjoy being the victim and vampires can always find someone willing. Some wanted to be turned into vampires themselves. Contrary to some stories, a vampire has to specifically bit their victim in an attempt to turn them. As a Wampyr, I had no ability to create new vampires or other Wampyrs.

I had gotten adept at finding fang bangers because I need to feed on human blood just like a true vampire although far less often. They were often pathetic, just wanting someone to treat them well. Vampire were not who a person should look for when looking for love but there was nothing which I could do. You fought the battles which you thought you could win. Yes, I have tried animal blood and it contained no sustenance. Thomas has been providing me with blood for the last few weeks. He does not appear to mind and with his ability to quickly regenerate any lost blood, I have not needed to hunt for new donors. It had come as quite a relief to not have to constantly be looking for a new man to shack up with and get him to donate blood. Never cared much for the bar scene, Goth or otherwise, or sleeping with men indiscriminately before becoming a Wampyr and was glad the charade was over at least for now.

Club Crimson was a relatively old bar from its appearance although it appeared to have been redone fairly recently. It was cleaner than many which I had been in. Red curtains covered all of the windows and all of the furniture was covered in the same colors. In the dark light of the bar, there was quite a number of different types of Goths in the bar. Some were classic Goths who dressed in black suits and dresses. Many of the men of this first group sported lace collars and sleeves. The second group were the punk Goths who were dressed in leather and sported pierced faces and bodies. Thomas really did not fit in at the Goth bar. People built like him simply do not find their way into bars like this one. He was dressed in a black tuxedo which several others in the bar were dressed in but he just seemed to wear it differently.

I carefully scanned those in the bar to see if anyone was a secondary vampire. With empathy, I was trying to feel the bloodlust which seemed to typify most vampires. I did not sense anything at first. Suddenly I felt a spike of hunger although more controlled than most I had felt. I looked in that direction. There was a woman dressed in a blood red dress with a wide skirt. The collar plunged low to reveal a large amount of bosom. She definitely had the figure for it. Compared to her, my figure could only be called slim. Incredibly beautiful with the pale skin common to all vampires but with bright red hair. It might have been dyed but I could not tell. I don't think I had ever heard of a secondary vampire the equal of her in looks. She appeared very young and I was estimating that she had been around eighteen when she had become a vampire. Elegant was the wrong word because she was made up far to aggressively. Still her makeup was expertly done, I wondered if she did it herself. I know I could not. Her dark grey eyes were locked onto mine and she did not appear to be pleased.

The female vampire walked over to where I was sitting and she opened wide to show her extended canines between bright red painted lips. Before I could speak, the woman stated, "You are not welcome here. This is not open hunting territory. Tonight, leave the city!" From her poise and strength of personality, she appeared to be an extremely old secondary vampire. Maybe over a hundred years old. It meant that the master vampire was likely fairly old as well. Her hand signaled for one of the bouncers. Probably blood bound to her.

"I am not here to hunt for humans. I am a messenger." I replied before she could eject me from the bar. Even in his human form, Thomas could likely take the bouncer easily but I did not want to start a fight in the bar.

"A messenger, from whom," came her response while at the same time motioning for the bouncer to hold on. Still, I saw that Thomas was watching him carefully.

"I represent a master vampire who has some interest in allying himself with your master of the city. I would prefer to pass the name only to your master," was what I answered.

She just stared at me for a few moments before replying, "You seem a little young to be sent out as a representative of a master?" I was right, compared to the vampire who had turned me, she was extremely old. The vampires who had tried to turn me into a vampire had only been a few days to a couple of weeks old.

With a shrug, I answered "My master is fairly young himself. Still, he has access to tremendous financial assets and could be an excellent ally." Using a little bit of truth to bolster the lie, I added, "I was a police officer while a mortal and am one of his most trusted lieutenants."

With a sense of grace I never had, the female vampire sat down at the table and locked eyes with me. Cross her hands together on the table, she had perfectly manicured nails, painted the same color as her gown. Her eyes were an extremely dark green. She made a specific point of ignoring Thomas. "So why does your master want to join forces with our master?" She asked. Sometimes master vampires would join forces but often they were at odds with each other.

"It is easy to see how good a control he has over the city and he definitely has greater plans than just ruling a small city. Maybe kick the Nightlords out and set up himself as king. There is plenty of room for other lords. As well, the Nightlords must be driven back from where they came. Otherwise, there will be no humans left to dominate and live from."

She smiles back at me, "True. Hard to live life without slaves to do your bidding." She motioned for a serving waitress who came up promptly. The girl was fairly pretty and appeared to be maybe eighteen or nineteen. She was dressed in a black dress and Goth style makeup on. I thought I could see fear in the girl's eyes under dark painted lids. Poor girl. I wondered what the owner of the bar was doing to make her frightened. My host stated, "Two glasses of my special reserve."

The girl hastily headed to the bar and within just a few moments, a pair of champagne glasses filled with blood were placed on the table. The vampire across from me asked, "Still, how do I know that you are not working for the Nightlords or that your master really wants to take over this territory?"

I put the glass up to my lips and took a sip. The blood had been warmed. It was human blood and I had gotten used to the richer Nightbane blood from Thomas. It seemed a bit bland as a result but I could still feel the nourishment of it. Was the blood from a willing donor or has the person been killed. "I am sure that some kind of arrangement can be reached?" I asked with a wan smile.

"Maybe" was her response. "Perhaps you could come back in a few days and I will have my master's response. When you come back, tell them that you wish to see Lady Crimson." Her tone of voice was clearly the dismissing of a lesser vampire. She got up from the table which Thomas and I were sitting at and glided towards the bar.

The black punks ripped of my uniform and body armor like they were made from paper. They had not even left me my underwear. My cloths were laying on the street beside the patrol cruiser. Kevlar armor that can stop a .357 Magnum round at close range and they rip it right off me. My pistol was somewhere on the streets where they had kidnaped me. The punks had not even bothered to grab it. Still, it was not like it had done me any good. I kicked and struggled against them but it was futile. Still, it would be better to die still fighting then to just lay down and die.

Even with what I had seen, I guess I was still in denial that vampires really existed and I searched for another explanation. I mean, how could vampires really exist. Still, there seemed nothing else that seemed to agree with what I had seen. They were not wearing vests and even under drugs, no one could still be standing after have a full magazine of hollow points pumped into them. As well, no one, even on drugs, was as strong as they appeared to be.

They had dragged me to an old abandoned hotel which had been boarded up. They had just jumped up to a third story balcony where the door was broken in. It was the old Morgan Hotel. Before Dark Day, a group had tried to save the hotel as a historic monument but they had given up. People were interested in simply surviving now not on remembering the past. The Hotel dated back to the beginning of the Twentieth Century. I had seen pictures of the hotel in its heyday and it was a really nice hotel and had been surrounded by incredible gardens.

There had been problems with bums using the empty hotel and it had been boarded up to prevent them from using it. Covering the weathered boards were decayed signs stating that the hotel had been condemned. The building was filthy and graffiti decorated the walls, inside and out. Broken glass was everywhere both around the building and inside it. The plaster was crumbing and the ceiling had soaked through in many places. Pieces of old furniture were scattered around. They were mostly destroyed but here and there was an intact chair or other piece of furniture.

There was no hope of the police finding me here even if a search was mounted. The police rarely venture into this area since dark day and they might not even try. Disappearing officers had become an all too common occurrence. The hotel was many blocks from where my cruiser was. There were many abandoned buildings and it would be impossible to search through them. As well, there was no obvious signs that anyone had broken in with them having used a third story balcony.

I was completely naked and laying on the bare floor, scared half out of my mind. Glass was imbedded in my back from being on the floor. Another one of the punks grabbed my arms and forced himself on me. It hurt so much and it was not the first rape I received this horrible night and did not think it would be the last. I had tried to claw at the hands that grabbed me but all I managed to do was break my nails without even denting his skin. He then proceeded to beat me until I was barely aware and was fighting for breath. The other shouted encouragement to him. My whole body ached from the multiple beatings I had received.

There were bites all over my body. They had drained blood from my neck, arms, breasts, and even my groin. After they had done that, there was no other logical explanation besides that they really were vampires. There is nothing erotic or romantic about being drained of blood. It was horrible. I was weak from blood loss and blood still oozed from the bites. Even though I vowed that I would try and fight to the last, I knew I could not survive much more.

By now, I had figured out the hierarchy of the gang and the one which seemed to be the leader stepped over where I was laying. He stated to the punk who was raping me, "Enough." I knew it was not for my sake and wondered what new torture he had planned for me. He stated, "I have decided that we will turn her. If she does not turn savage, we will have her at our beck and call. As well, the master should be pleased to have a police officer under his sway."

With that, he bit me in the neck. It was a more gentle bite than any of the others had been and he did not seem to take much blood. After a few moments, he stated, "We have to rest. You will wait right here for us and not move from this spot. We will be back this evening." With that, he just seemed to disappear. The others seemed to disappear along with him. There was some light which I could see through the slits between the boards covering the windows. Dawn would be coming soon

With them all gone, I thought I would try to escape. I did not think I could stand but maybe I could crawl. I could not move at all. I put every once of will into trying to move but could not move at all. My own body was no longer under my own control. Tears flooded from my eyes as the sun rose and found its way between the cracks between the boards on the windows.

Alone in the filthy room, I realized what he meant to do. He meant to turn me into a vampire like they were. Some stories told that it took three bites to become a vampire. I vowed to myself that I would get them.

Another nightmare. I awoke feeling my whole body shaking. It was still early in the morning, maybe around ten. I did not know why all this was effecting me now. I had fought against vampires since having become a Wampyr and not had these problems. It had taken me a long time to recover inside from the gang rapes and could allow a man to touch me but I did not blame Thomas for it. There was no ghost of the gang members when we came together. I could tell that he cared. Still, I thought I had gotten over what had happened. Obviously, not completely.

Presently Thomas was asleep and I did not want to wake him. I was as safe as you could be in this day and time. I was laying in the motel room bed beside him. We had finished at Lady Crimson and her bar. We were simply waiting to see what her answer was going to be before planning the next stage of our attack. There was the potential of being badly outnumbered by vampires and we needed to plan how to deal with that. I had a few ideas but they were still nebulous at this stage.

I needed to relax and calm myself. I took a slow measured breath and another. Slowly my breathing began returning to normal. The shaking slowly subsided and I was able to steady myself. Calm returned.

Now, why were the nightmares returning with such ferocity. I tried to think on recent events. All that made sense was that I had not gotten over the events as well as I had thought. If that was the case, had I truly come to accept what I had become. I was not a leach on life. It was true that I needed blood to survive but I fought against the creatures trying to take over the world, be they vampires or creatures from the Night Lands. It was hard not to glory in the strength and speed since becoming a Wampyr.

There was also a certain emotion turmoil with me and Thomas. I did not know where this relationship was leading. I have never gotten as serious with a man as I had with him. Is what was between us love. I did not know. Was I just leaching off of him for what I needed. On the other side, I hoped he would not ask me to marry him.

The worries ground away in my mind but eventually I fell back asleep. When the sun went down, there was much which Thomas and I needed to do.

It was too early to go back to Club Crimson to see what the master's answer would be. It would be best to wait two or three day. Instead, Thomas and I decided to walk the streets. We wanted to feel the pulse of the city in effect. There was also the possibility that there were other Nightbane in the city. We could use some allies and our two companions when we dealt with a Night Prince a couple of months ago had some other problems to deal with. As a result, they might not be able to help us. Unfortunately, Thomas had not sensed any more of his kind.

The streets were extremely quiet and almost everything was closed. People were huddled in their homes. A few bars and clubs were still open even with the danger and they seemed like the only source of sound. We just passed a biker bar and the sounds of the bar were fading slowly as we continued walking. Also weird was that we saw no homeless on the streets. After Dark Day and the collapse of so many businesses, there was more homeless than ever. They were often preyed on but there always seemed more to replace them.

There was a breathless quality about the city, something behind the quiet. Suddenly there was a scream. It sounded like a woman's scream. It was obviously close. Still, we shouldn't get involved. I tried to tell myself that it was someone else's problem and getting involved could easily destroy our cover. Guilt about not getting involved warred with that. Thomas looked at me and my brown, almost black, eyes locked with his grey eyes. I could see in his eyes that he had to respond. It had gotten me in trouble before but I knew that I could not stand by and not respond either.

We heard another scream and started running towards the sound. The source was just around the corner. There was a older woman in a white nurses uniform. Hispanic lady from her appearance, maybe in her forties and a little plump, but still fairly attractive. She was slowly backing against a wall, fear obvious in her eyes. It was also obvious that she did not expect anyone to respond to her screams.

Four figures were half circling her. Also Hispanic from their appearance and from their movement, obviously vampires. They were in hunting mode, stalking their next meal. The scene reminded me of when I was hunted and the gang of vampires tried to turn me into one of them.

One turned towards me, obviously taking me for another vampire, and growled, "This is our meal, get your own." He flashed his teeth at me while he growled at me.

We had to kill them all quickly or they could report back to their master about us. The biggest danger was that they would turn into mist and simply escape. I drew my forty-five and fired a double tap into his chest. One must have lodged in his heart because suddenly he went rigid and collapsed to the ground. Thomas did not take the time to transform and fired his huge pistol into the chest of one of the other vampires. This second vampire also had the round mushroom directly in the heart. Two down.

The big question was if the remaining two would flee or fight. As one, they both turned toward us. Anger seemed to be thick enough to cut with a knife. Fight seemed to be what they planned. Good! One charged me and I grabbed his clawed hand just as he slashed at me. My other hand held the forty-five so I spun around in a kick into the chest. At the same time, I heard the hand cannon in Thomas's hand go off again. Still, I had my own fight to worry about. I could only hope that Thomas could handle his.

The Vampire pulled from my grasp. It was hard to know what the creature had planned next and I fired a double tap into his chest before he could attack or flee. He also went down from a silver round in his heart.

Turning towards where Thomas and the Vampire were fighting, I could see that Thomas was trying to change while the vampire had him in a hold and was trying to bite his neck. Thomas was quite strong even as a normal human but he could not match the strength of a vampire.

I grabbed the vampire by the throat and pulled him off Thomas. I was in hunter mode myself and my fangs had extended. My forty-five was pointed straight at his heart. I pushed the vampire against a wall, "You try to change or even more, I will sink a half dozen silver rounds in your heart."

He did not move and I asked, "So, you will tell me about your master. Where does he lair?" He looked at me and it was obvious that he warred between fear of me and loyalty to his master. He did not respond and there seemed little hope of getting useful information from him. I felt him tensing as if we about to attack. A pair of forty-rounds finished him off.

Looking around, I saw that the woman was still frozen in fear. Thomas had completely changed and now was a half-bear with huge silver appearing claws. She was shaking. Something had to be done. I could probably convince he that it was all a dream but that might not be wise. It would be better to have her know what is really going on. Before trying to deal with the woman, I made sure that my own fangs were no longer extended. It is hard to calm from predator mode but I was able to calm myself within a few moments.

Psychically, I put force into my words beyond that of a normal person and stated, "We are not here to harm you. We are friends. Yes, those are vampires who were after you. My friend and I hunt vampires and other creatures of the dark. You need to be extremely careful when you are out at night. Wear a cross and stay in well lit areas. Cannot tell you much more."I wish I had time to tell her more but hopefully her eyes were open and

I could seen in her eyes that she was slowly calming down. She spoke, "Who are you?"

Shaking my head, I replied, "Just a couple of friends. Now, why don't you go home. It might be best if you do not speak about us to anyone." With that, she departed. As she got further away, she slowly increased her pace until it was almost a run.

Now, Thomas and I had to deal with the bodies. The bodies would either need to be burned or exposed to the light of dawn. Otherwise, if someone removed the silver rounds from their heart, they would come back once again.

I wrapped the collar of my trench coat around my neck as much as possible. The sun had just appeared over the horizon. Even protected by the shadow of a mighty oak, I could still feel the primal power of the sun. The undead were not suppose to walk under the light of the sun. Smoke rose from the bodies of the four vampires. In my heart, I felt intense satisfaction. Never to rise another sunset. Never to feed on another innocent victim. I saw so little of the sun most of the time but even though it burned, it was so beautiful to see. It was proof that there was still hope to win our battle against the evil which threatened to rule the world.

There had been a small graveyard just a few blocks away from where we had fought the vampires. It was slightly overgrown and showed signs of neglect. None of the gravestones were newer than ten years before. There was a low brick wall around the graveyard and many trees grew in the graveyard, making it the perfect place to deal with the vampires.

After dragging them to the graveyard, we had staked the four vampires to the ground out where no trees would protect them. It was then simply a need to wait for the sun to rise. A fire might have attracted more attention than we wanted so the sun had been the best choice. They were each spreadeagle with stake in the heart and one in each limb. By the time that anyone might enter the graveyard, if anyone did, the bodies will have long vanished. Their flesh was black and beginning to turn to dust. As I continued to watch, the bodied burned to just ash and bones. Soon the bones would be gone as well. There would be no trace of them. Hopefully many more would join them soon.

I heard a truck come up. Turning, I saw that it was Thomas in his beat up Ford Bronco. The plan was for me to watch the bodies until sunrise while Thomas went to go get his Bronco. Thomas pushed the passenger door open and sat there patiently. In the seat was a small pile of blankets.

Riding in his vehicle, protected by a blanket, I could avoid the worst of the sun's effects. I would still be a shadow of what I was at night but it was only a relatively short ride to the hotel. I walked over to were Thomas was parked and slid in the passenger door. As soon as I slammed the door closed, Thomas put the truck in drive and I began to snuggle in the blankets.

It was time to call it a day.

It was the third day of my captivity, the gang had come back soon after the sun had set for the night. I wonder if maybe they resided in the basement of the abandoned hotel. If only there was something I could do against them. There was plenty of wood in the room which they had left me in, most of it the remains of wrecked furniture. I had heard in many stories that you could kill a vampire by staking them with wood.

Whatever mind control the leader had put me under prevented me from moving. Even without the mind control, I felt weak with all the blood I had lost. I could barely think and pain was everywhere. It seemed likely that I was feverous. Periodically, I would collapse into unconsciousness. The leader had one of his gang bring me bottles of water and command me to drink it. I don't know if I would have if not under his spell, but there was no way I could fight his compulsion. If he had not, I likely would not have lasted these last three days. Still, I was badly dehydrated. I had not eaten anything in three days. If I found a way to escape, I would need to go to the hospital or I would likely die. I knew I was close to death. I was filthy, having not changed my cloths or bathed since being made a captive.

The leader commanded to the others, "Hold her up." I felt two of them pick me up so that I was in a standing position although my legs just hung down. It was not as if I could stand on my own. The other three just seemed to be standing together, watching with amusement.

One of the others asked, "So what do we do is she becomes one of the savage ones." I had heard them talk about the savage ones but still did not know what they meant. It was until much later that I learned that they were talking about wild vampires. Often when a secondary vampire tries to create another vampire, they create a wild vampire instead of another secondary. Wild vampires are almost mindless creatures.

The leader smiled, showing his canines, "Then we leave her. If she has enough cunning, maybe she will survive a while. No matter, she will be of no use to us."

He took the final step to where I was being held up and stated, "Tonight you become one of us."I felt a sudden pain in my shoulder. The fire spread to the rest of my body. I tried to fight it but everything changed. Suddenly, the pain which was everywhere was gone. In its place was anger. I felt reborn. Was I a vampire like they were. It did not matter, They would pay! I knew I could make them pay for the last three days.

The leader stepped back and stated, "Now you are one of us," while smiling. Like Hell, I told myself! Pulling myself from the grasp of the other two vampires, I grabbed a chair that was next to me and smashed it on the floor. I had never been this strong before. In a smooth motion, I jabbed the piece of wood I had directly into his heart. He just looked stunned.

One of the vampires commanded, "You will serve us." He was one that had been holding my arms just a few moments before. I just laughed and grabbed him by the throat. The ability for the vampires to dominate me completely vanished. With my new strength, I threw him against the other three vampires who had just been watched. The three vampires just fell like they where bowling pins.

A single vampire stood next to me and he finally realized something was wrong. He tried to claw at me but I grabbed his arm while dropping to the ground and grabbing another piece of wood. Before he could break loose from my grasp, I jabbed in into his heart just like I had with the gang leader.

Anger was still in the drivers seat. They would likely kill me in the end but I planned to take as many of them with me in the end. I grabbed another piece of wood, a larger one and began twirling it like a baton. Maybe an old table leg from the feel. Police training had included both training in a baton and a PR-24, a weapon like a martial art tonfa. A tonfa would have been better but this would do.

The four vampires surviving began stalking me. It was different than before. Before, it was like I was simply their prey. Now, I could see caution and fear in their eyes. They were stalking another hunter. It was obvious from their movement that while they were strong, they had no martial art training. Claws were out and they hissed at me. Every time one got too close, I would backhand whip the weapon at them. They would then jump back. This dance went on for several minutes without me or them being able to gain any real advantage.

Keeping all four at bay was extremely difficult. When it looked like my attention was wavering, one tried to charge and I whipped the weapon into his head. We were trained to never use one on the head but it was usually ignored in the field. He went down from the force of the blow and the piece of wood shattered. I jabbed the ragged end into the heart of one who had tried to use him as a shield to get closer to me.

I jumped back and grabbed another piece of wood. The three remaining whispered among themselves. I could hear, "It is not worth it" and "Deshea was stupid trying to bring her over." Suddenly the three vampires fled, leaving me alone in the ruined hotel room.

For the longest time, I simply sat and thought about what had happened. For some reason, I did not think I was a vampire but I did not know what I was. I could not stay here all night. I threw all the bodies in a large pile. The leader had smoked several Blunts while he held me captive and I found his lighter in his cloths. I knew instinctively that fire would destroy them. First, I kicked their neck, separating head from body. As before, I knew instinctively that would have to be done before I burned the body. I put all the heads in one stack.

Looking in the other rooms, I found some clothing. The cloths the vampires had wore had too much blood on them. The ones I found were filthy and did not fit but I could not wander the streets naked. As filthy as I was, it likely did not matter how filthy the cloths were. I grabbed the wood from several other rooms and piled on top of the bodies and the severed heads. Cloth and paper made sure that the pyres would burn.

I lit first one pyre and then the other. First, it was mostly smoke but the fire began catching and soon both were roaring blazes. Probably the whole building would burn with them. While the outside walls were brick, the inside was mostly wood.

It was time to go back to the police station. I would try and tell them what had happened over the last few days although leaving out the fact that they were vampires. The station had showers and I had some cloths in my locker. I wish I had known what would happen when I tried to return.

I woke up. The dreams again. It was weird because I had not dreamed of the events which preceded me becoming a Wampyr in quite a while. Probably months. The one who had turned me was long ash along with two others of his gang. Maybe I should track down the other three. I had not been back to Newark since I escaped from the police station. The day my whole universe changed. The day I had learned the truth.

Thomas was looking at me, his grey eyes showing obvious concern. As our eyes looked into the others, he asked, "Do you want to tell me about it?"

I took a deep breath and replied, "Yes, it might be for the best." I had told him bits and pieces of what had happened before but not the full story. This time, I told him about everything. I had never told anyone the complete story. I told him about the feeling of helplessness and about how they had raped me repeatedly. I told about how I had just sat there with my body not under my own control. I even told them about how I felt that I was a leach just like true vampire were. It felt like something was released as I told him although I could feel bloody tears on my cheeks.

A gentle but strong hand wiped the one of my right cheek away. Thomas replies is a soft voice, "I understand. Many Nightbane have their first becoming in times of great danger. It seems that strong emotions such as fear often bring on the change. One was caught in a fire and his Morpheus form looks like he was burned all over his body." He paused for a moment, "After my first wife, Amy was her name, died, I was distraught. I moved deep into the wilderness of Maine. A tree fell on the cabin I had built. It was the middle of the winter. I was pinned for what seemed like hours. I got colder and colder. I was so afraid. That was the first time I ever transformed."

Like me, Thomas had not told me much about his life. I asked, "So tell me a bit about Amy? You told me that you have been married six times but have never told me about any of them."

"You need to understand how much times have changed since then. The idea of a woman working as a constable just was unheard of. At that time, women stayed in the home. They raise the children, keep the garden, and take care of any livestock. She was a local girl who I had known most of the time I was growing up, the daughter of one of the local farmers. She was extremely beautiful with light brown hair and sparkling green eyes." He smiled for a moment, closing his eyes. I wondered if he was imagining what she looked like all those years ago.

After a moment, he brought himself back to the present and continued with, "Like my parents, her parents were Irish and had come to Maine to settle. My father was a carpenter and I learned the trade from him. I could make a good living at it and Amy and I did pretty well. Like others, we planned for a large family but never were able to have children." That agreed with what I had heard. I had heard that there are no cases where Nightbane have had children.

Continuing on, Thomas stated, "We went to the doctor and they could find nothing wrong. Of course medicine was more art than science back then. We were both Catholics and like all good Catholics, we tried praying. Trying talking to the priest to see if they could help. Nothing worked. Eventually we accepted that it was to be that we would have no children. I thought it was 'God's Will' at the time. Now, I know that it was simply because I am a Nightbane and we are always childless." Like Nightbane, a Wampyr could not have children so I had to accept the same thing.

"I was devastated when she died. She was forty and I was forty-two at the time. One day she caught a cold. Just a few days later, she died. I tried praying to the Lord to save her. As before, prayers were no help. The doctors told me that she had pneumonia. I did not know what it meant but she was dead." One item that I was a bit surprised about was that he had never found a Nightbane woman and married her.

I wondered how devote Thomas was. Of course pre-martial sex is a no-no with the Catholic. I had a few dates with a Catholic when I had been a cop and it was extremely strained. It seemed like all he told me about is the rules which I was suppose to follow. I believed in a higher power but I never really been a church goer. I never saw the point of constantly going to church and praying for forgiveness.

As we had talked, the sun has slowly gone down to the horizon and it was getting close to dusk. The heavy curtains kept most of the sunlight out but I could still see that it was getting darker outside. Still, even if I could not see the sun at all, I would know when dusk was upon us. The ability to sense the rising and setting of the sun had become an integral part of me. Maybe less so than with a true vampire but it was still there.

Like the night before, we planned to see if we could find any Nightbane hidden in the town. Even a city of this size should have at least some Nightbane residing in it. Thomas planned to make some calls before we did any wandering around though. He knew some friends who might know some information on where we might find them. For one, there was a Nightbane who lived in St Louis who might know where any Nightbane living in Independence might be hiding out.

I don't know where my love for black leather came from since I became a Wampyr. In the few vampires movies I have seen, many vampires seemed to like to dress in black leather. Maybe that is where it came from. Still, the leather just felt good against the skin. It also made me feel sexy and was as like some kind of predator. Before becoming a Wampyr, I was a jeans and sweater kind of girl. I had never been one for skirts and dresses. I continued getting dressed while Thomas picked up the phone and dialed what was obviously a long distance number.

I could hear the ringing of the phone through the receiver while Thomas waited for someone to pick up on the other line. A grumpy "Hello !" could be heard on the other end of the line. As a Wampyr, I had definitely better than human hearing and could clearly hear the other end of the line.

"Hey there, this is Thomas. I got a question for you."

"Thomas, haven't heard from you in almost a year. Thought some big and nasty got you."The voice was no longer angry but was stuff gruff.

"I had some problems a couple of months back but a lovely avenging angel came and rescued me." Thomas responded. I could not help but shake my head. Thomas liked to called me 'an avenging angel' from my first name 'Gabriella' and 'Gabriel' the avenging angel.

"I can tell by your voice of something more. Have you been sleeping with her?" As a Wampyr, I don't color like I used to but I could definitely feel the embarrassment.

"You know, Charles, you should not say such things about a lady. Besides, she is right beside me. She might punch me out." I raised a mocking fist at him but smiles back.

"So what do you need," in a different tone as before came over the phone. More serious, maybe.

"I am in Independence, trying to clean out a nest of blood suckers." Thomas responded, his voice also more serious. After a moment or two pause, he continued, "Have been looking to see if there are any local brethren. I have not been able to find any allies and we sure could use some."

"Independence, huh. Been pretty quiet until just a few months ago. It sounded like vampires but was not sure. I considered checking on it myself but I have enough problems here. Problem is that I don't know anyone there either. I might know someone who might know someone though. It will take me a few days to get in contact with him though."

I did not think we had a few days. It was likely that the meeting between the master vampire would be arranged within a few days. All I could do was shake my head. Thomas appeared to agree with me and responded, "We are up against a time limit here. If there is anything you can go to expedite getting in contact with this person, I need you to do it. Otherwise, my companion and I might end up going in by ourselves."

There was several moments of silence from the other end of the line. Might have been as long as half a minute. Suddenly Charles came back on the line, "I will do what I can but you need to stay available. Give me a number where I can reach you?"

Thomas gave the number to the hotel and hung up. It seemed like we would be staying in the hotel room tonight. I am sure that we could find something to do. My hands went up to the top button of the shirt that Thomas had just finished putting on. I could see that his pulse had already quickened. Slowly, I began unbuttoning his shirt. His hand moved to my thigh while I undid the shirt. It would be a long evening and I intended to make the most of it.

Where do a bunch of Nightbane meet in the middle of the night? At a Denny's Restaurant, of course! One of the few businesses which still stayed open overnight. Here we were waiting for the other Nightbane to come here and meet us. We had chosen a table where it would be hard for others to overhear. It was the closest thing we could find to neutral territory. The others did not know how far they could trust us.

Thomas had ordered himself a meal but I had to content myself with some tea. As long as I sipped it slowly, I could drink it. Looking at the plate in front of Thomas, I was kind of wistful. He had ordered steak and eggs and was attacking the plate. It had been a long time since I had eaten real food. I was content otherwise. It was still embarrassing to ask but I had drunk my fill on his wrist before we had gone out. Part of the ravenous eating on the part of Thomas was likely due to sustaining me.

It had not been until close to dawn that Charles had called us back with information about the Nightbane in the area. The Nightbane had arranged to meet us the next evening at around midnight. From what I had been told, they had taken quite a beating and had lost almost a third of their number. From the conversation, it sounded like they were never all that numerous anyway but the blow had hurt them severely.

Suddenly, Thomas looked up. A couple of cars pulled in along with an older looking Mini-Van and a pickup truck. The mini-van looked like a Ford Aerostar and the truck looked like a small Japanese model. It appeared to be an older model as well. I could only catch a glimpses of the cars and could not tell what they were although one might have been some kind of sports car. Thomas stated, "This is them. There is only nine of them." A Nightbane could senses other Nightbane in close proximity to each other. Nine of them meant that there was likely around thirteen or fourteen originally.

The first ones through the door were a man and a woman. The couple looked to be in their early thirties and were dressed like you might expect farmers to dress. The man was in jeans and a flannel shirt. The woman was in a dress. I don't know what to call it but the farm girls in all the movies seem to wear them. Didn't know that people really wore them. The term might be 'sun dress'.

The second was a pair of men. Something made me think that they were gay. Somehow I usually could tell although not really a major concern. Probably from the 'domestics' I had dealt with. An amusing thought came to mind. Maybe one of them transformed into a girl in his Morpheus form. I would have to ask Thomas if it was possible. One was a pretty big man with blond hair. Something made me think of a college student although pretty strong. The other was much darker, with dark brown, almost black hair. He was dressed in a red shirt from Radio-Shack.

A single figure stepped in next. Extremely well groomed, she was dressed in an expensive grey business suit and was obviously an executive of some kind. In her hands was a laptop case. Likely one that would have cost me several months salary when I had been a police officer.

The final four came in a chattering cluster. Three males and a single girl. From their appearance, they were seventeen or eighteen only. They were dressed in jeans and t-shirts with the girl's being low riders and her T-shirt short to expose her midriff. They looked and acted like high school students, to be honest. I wondered if their first change might not have been on Dark Day.

Slowly, all of the Nightbane sat at the table with the farmers, as I was mentally calling them, sitting down first. Not a word was spoken at first. Thomas got looked over several times and I could not help but be jealous at the looks that the woman in the business suit gave him. I got far worse. There was open suspicion in their eyes. It did not take a genius to realize that they thought I was a vampire.

The woman in the business suit spoke out, "Who is the blood sucker? It was blood suckers that got us into the situation we are in now." I could see a lot of problems resulting in this.

It looked like she was going to say more but Thomas responded before she could continue, "Her name is Gabriella. She is not a vampire but a Wampyr. A half vampire. She is going to get us into the master vampire's lair."

The short dark haired person spoke up next, "It is a nice thought but if we get involved, we will die. When the vamps first came to Independence, a group of us tried to kill the master vampire. Instead, five of us were killed for no gain whatsoever. He keeps close to a hundred vampire minions around him. There is a story going around that he used to be a powerful voodoo priest before he became a vampire and that several of the first ones he changed were his priestess." I could see that the other Nightbane looked frightened. When a human sorcerer or sorceress is turned into a vampire, he or she will retain some of the magic he or she had while they were human and could be extremely dangerous. From what I have been told, a Wampyr, even if she was a sorceress when a human, she will loose all ability to cast magic. I did not know from personal experience though.

I spoke up before anyone else could speak, "Then we simply have to hit faster and hit the master and his priestesses first." That tactic usually worked against any opponent, to be honest.

Thomas spoke up again, "As far as the hundreds of vampire minions, it seems likely that we could come up with some kind of diversion to occupy the attention of many of them? Besides, if you don't fight them soon, they will simply get larger in number and even be harder to fight." He locked eyes with both the woman in the business suit and the dark haired one until they broke his gaze.

One of the ones who looked like a teenager, one of the males, spoke up, "We fight and die, we at least tried. We just hide and cower, we will just as dead." The other young boys and the girl nodded their heads in agreement. Obviously at least four were with us.

The woman in the business suit did not look pleased. Maybe she saw the young Nightbane as betraying her. She turned towards Thomas, "From the call I got, it sounded like you were someone important. I thought maybe you had brought an army to help us. Who are you?"

"I am often called 'Kodiak'" is all he said. He is not one of the oldest of the Nightbane but is still extremely old. He has been around since just after the War of Eighteen-Twelve and has fought in multiple wars. As a result, he is pretty well known. Still, she showed no real recognition. Either she did not know that name or she was doing a good job at hiding it.

The male farmer obviously did though. He looked towards Thomas, "I have never met you but we share a good friend. Steven? Last I talked to him, it did not sound like he had heard from you in several years." Thomas nodded his head. Steven was the farmer who we had spend several weeks hiding out in his farm. The farmer turned toward the woman in the suit, "Few have the reputation of Kodiak. He has been around for a long time, at least since the Civil War. When the Nightlords appeared, he came down from Alaska to fight them. Few can match his experience." He nodded and the woman who I assumed was his wife also nodded her head.

The woman in the business suit was not dissuaded so easily and asked, "So how did you shack up with a blood sucker, I mean Wampyr." Obvious she was trying to get me angry, maybe make me snap. I simply tried to ignore her baiting and did not respond. It did make me a bit angry but nothing worth lashing out at.

Thomas locked eyes with her again and stated, "Down south of here. Had a run in with a group of hounds. If she hadn't come when she did, it would have been very rough." I had also helped him defeat the Night Prince and recover secret documents which the creature had acquired on other Nightlords and their minions. After he had spoken, she broke eye contact with him again.

"Before I became a Wampyr, I was a police officer in Newark." I added. Continuing on, I stated, "I saw first hand what was happening from a human perspective but never truly knew the world until I became what I am now. I probably know as much about vampires as any of you do. Kodiak is right. If we don't fight them now, they will just continue to expand in numbers."

I gave a few moments pause before I asked, "I only know a little bit about them. From what you have seen, do they use guns or do they just attack with their claws and teeth?" Many vampires avoid modern technology and instead prefer to attack bestially.

The young girl responded to my questioning, "We were told to avoid them but when we got a chance to eliminate one or two, we would attack." Again, the woman in the suit did not look pleased. She seemed to be the one behind avoiding the vampires. The girl continued after giving a shrug, "We have only seen a couple with guns. Most seem to prefer attacking with claws and biting. They have been kidnaping homeless off the streets. Some of the homeless get taken away in black vans. Been trying to follow them as well. Never been able to figure out where they are going." Now we knew what was happening to the bums on the street.

Crossing my arms under my breasts, I turned towards Thomas and he nodded his head for me to continue. "I need to know if you know who they have as human servants?"

Suddenly the eyes of the other Nightbane turned toward the woman in a suit. It was obvious that she knew something and they knew she knew. I tried to feel out her emotional state but she was blocking me. Some Nightbane could. I could feel nothing from her mind.

She took a deep breath, "That is one of the reasons why I am even more reluctant to fight them. The Chief of Police died just after the vampires came into the town. To be honest, I think he was really a doppleganger serving the Night Prince. A new Chief took over just a few days later. Some of his orders have been pretty strange unless you consider it in terms of him serving the vampires. He can potentially bring police officers in to aid the vampires. As well, I think that many of the members of SWAT, maybe even all of them, are vampire servants. They are used to help round up the homeless as well." I had tried out for SWAT when I was a police officer. Only a handful of female police officers had made it around the country. SWAT could potentially be extremely dangerous, even to a Nightbane.

I just had to ask, "You just spoke of a Night Prince. What has been going on with him?"

"I suspect that he is laying low. Likely he does not want to report to the Nightlords that he lost control of the city." I had never heard anything like this but it made sense. The penalty for failure from the Nightlords is likely very harsh and very probable terminal.

Taking a deep breath, I asked, "You tell me that a group of Nightbane were ambushed. Can you tell me about the exact events?"

I was surprised that the woman answered again, "Before then, our leader was Corvin. He also went by the name 'Battle Crow.' He planned all of our attacks against the Night Princes minions. We already noticed that he did not appear to report what was really happening in the city. I am an investment banker and mostly worked to keep the group financially supported. Still, I was the oldest except for him. I have been a Nightbane since the Fifties and acted as his second."

She paused a few moments before continuing, "He and our four best warriors went out to try and kill the master vampire. He was rumored to be in the mausoleum in the largest cemetery in the city. The rumor was simply to trap them. We figure that there were at least a hundred vampires waiting for them along with SWAT team members who are vampire thralls. SWAT was outfitted with night gear and opened up with automatic weapons, hurting them and the vampires simply closed in to finish them off."

I thought she was finished but she added, "I was the oldest surviving Nightbane and no-one else wanted it so I took over. I have never been much of a warrior or a tactician. It seemed best to keep quiet and hope that we could get some allies. More than just a single warrior and a half vampire." There were other allies coming on but decided to keep that quiet for the moment.

"As far as allies, are they any sorcerers or Were-Beasts who you could call on for help?" I asked.

"They have been keeping extremely quiet as well. I have heard some rumors about a sorcerer or two but nothing concrete. It is quite possible that they abandoned the city when the vampires too over" was her answer. I figured it was something like that. Other than anyone else that Thomas and I could bring in, this was all we had.

"Now, about my plan. I have figured out how we are going to find the lair where the master vampire resides." They all looked extremely interested including the woman who had been acting as leader. "You, Radio-Shack man."

He stated, sounding just a bit peeved, "Name is Phil."

I just shook my head, "Alright, Phil then. What I want from you is a brand new cell phone plan. One with one of those cell phones with a G.P.S. tracker." I proceeded to tell them about the rest of my plan. It was a simple plan but I thought highly effective.

Thomas asked me, "Are you sure about this? If they figure out what you really are, they might kill you before I can get there to help you." His voice showed definite concern. It was nice in many ways to have someone worry about you.

To be honest, I was pretty nervous myself. I would be all by myself with hordes of vampires possibly all going for my throat. Nodding my head, I respond, "I talked to Crimson last night and she stated that I could not bring any human servants with me. She told me that no-one, even her own minions can bring human servants into the master's inner sanctum." I would also be blindfolded on the trip so the actual lair could not be tracked. The master appeared to be quite paranoid.

I added, "It sounded like the master was really interested in seeing me. As soon as I get into his presence, I will hit the button and you will know exactly where I am. Still, I am kind of surprised that Cynthia could not trace investments to find out where the main hiding place is." Cynthia was the Nightbane who worked as an investment banker. I had also found out that her Nightbane form is what a lot of other Nightbane call a "Barbie Doll." Basically her Nightbane form was extremely attractive and many Nightbane were extremely jealous as a result. To be honest, I thought her real problem was not how she looked but how she acted. She had only gotten command of the Nightbane after Corvin died because no-one else wanted it.

I was to meet Crimson outside her club in another hour and she would take me to see the master vampire around midnight. I had the new cell phone in a pocket of my trench coat all set to call the cavalry. As well, my forty-five tucked into a shoulder holster. It was filled with silver hollow point rounds and I had a pair of extra magazines filled the same way.

While I wore my black leathers, I had spent a bit of time on makeup. To be honest, I was never all that good at makeup. I never understood how woman would take an hour in front of a mirror trying to make themselves up. All I had done is use just a bit of mascara and a crimson lipstick.

The only other change was that I wore a silver choker collar. It was no all that expensive a piece but was still nice. I generally did not wear much jewelry and the choker felt weird around my neck. Still, it would be a good idea to dress up a bit in my role as an ambassador between master vampires. It was one which came from the cache of jewelry which I had relieved a security executive of. I wondered if anyone had found him yet. I had left him in his own basement. It had been his own private torture chamber.

I had caught a cab from where the motel was to Club Crimson. It saved time and made sure that my cloths would stay pristine. In front of the club was a black limo. The vehicle shined a high gloss and the windows were dark tinted to the point where I could see nothing inside the limo. For how expensive the limousine appeared to be, it was obviously that the master vampire had done quite well for himself. The back right door was open and a figure in a uniform stood next to it. It looked like the uniform which you see limousine drivers wear in movies including the cap.

Slipping inside the limo, I pulled my legs inside as the driver closed the door. I had worn thigh length boots but they had sensible heels. I have never been very skilled at walking in high heels to be honest. I had heard that some women wear them because it makes their walk look sexy but how does that help if you keep falling down. That is what I would be doing in high heels.

The only thing I saw initially was the carpeting and seats. The whole inside of the limo was a crimson color and you could almost sink into the seats. Looking around, I saw that Crimson was wearing a gown in the color of her namesake.. I would complain about he always wearing the same style but who am I to complain. She sat directly across from me in the limousine, next to the glass separating our compartment from the drivers compartment

Beside me and across from me were three humans. Warning bells went off in my head suddenly. They were in full tactical SWAT body armor including helmets and had submachine-guns pointed at me. They were H&K MP-5 submachine guns. I had trained on one while I was in the police force and knew them quite well. The barrels looked to wide for nine millimeters so they were either ten millimeters or forty calibers. These guys looked like they knew their business. I suddenly heard the door beside me lock. It was a trap. The only ones we had told of our plan were the Nightbane who were suppose to back me up.

Crimson was smiling at me. A malign smile. "Well, little Wampyr, it is so nice for you to come into our trap. By the way, the doors and windows are bullet proof. Escape is impossible." She was right. While I could likely break through the door anyway, trying to fight my way out the window with three SWAT guys spraying me with bullets was close to impossible. Bullets did not hurt me as it did a normal human but I had my limits.

I heard the drivers door open and then close a few moments later.

She continued her evil smile while she ordered me, "Put your hands in front of you." There was nothing to do but put my hands in front of me. My reward was to get a pair of handcuffs on my hands. There were not your standard handcuffs but instead hinged handcuffs. They were much harder to get out of and were much stronger than normal hand cuffs.

She had only made one mistake which one of the SWAT guys reminded her of, "Ma'am, it would really be better if I put them behind her."

The vampire just smiled back and responded, "I would not worry too much about it. If she moves, she knows that you will pump her full of lead." This evil smile of hers was getting extremely annoying.

Crimson then reached into my trench coat and pulled out the new cell phone. The one which was so important tp tonight's plans. "Well, it looks like your friends will be heading for a trap. Seems like you have gotten extremely unlucky tonight." She pressed a button and the window beside her smoothly glided down. She handed the phone to someone outside and the window closed as smoothly as it had opened. I bit my lip to avoid showing my fear.

She stated, "Check her for any weapons," to the SWAT guy directly beside me. After a quick but thorough search, he pulled the Colt from my shoulder holster and a wooden Tonfa I had picked up earlier at a martial art supply store. I could see what looked like an admiring expression as he examined the pistol carefully. He put it in the waistband of his pants after he finished checking it. He handed one of the magazines to Crimson. "You have been a naughty girl, silver hollow points. Were you planning to use them on me or the master?" was her response, obviously directed at me this time. I did not answer her, trying to figure out a way out of the trap I was in. She casually handed the magazine back to the SWAT guy.

"Following the cell phone signal, your friends will be ambushed by SWAT team members and will be killed while resisting arrest," she continued with. "That will finally be the end of any Nightbane problems in the city." I turned toward her. I knew my anger was showing but I did not care. At my expression, she shook her head, "Well, so angry."

What I really wanted to know was who betrayed us. I had to consider several of them as potential having betrayed me. Her next words echoed my thoughts, "I bet you would like to know who betrayed you. Well, maybe Lord William will tell you before you are killed. He stated that he wanted to see you. I wonder what he has planned for you."

The female vampire tapped on the window between the drivers compartment and the rear of the limo. After a moment, the window slid down and the driver turned towards her. She stated to the driver, "Lets go." The engine was so quiet that I could barely hear it but with her command, he pulled into traffic.

Again I wished I could smack that evil smile off her face. She stated to me, "Look at the bright side. At least you will not be blindfolded."

The limo slowly headed out of town. As we went, the building generally got smaller and further apart. I tried to keep track of street signs when I saw them. If I was able to escape, I might need to know where I was. There was little traffic and the trip went quickly.

The SWAT team members were utterly silent for the entire ride. Crimson was not. Her evil smile had not faded and she had not stopped talking during virtually the entire ride. Sometimes she simply insulted me while at other times telling me what kind of punishments that the Lord William had reserved for me. She seemed to like to gloat a lot.

Suddenly, the limo pulled in front of a large building. I figured the trip might have taken around twenty minutes. Several black vans sat beside the building. It appeared to have been a hotel at one time but in the front was a sign that stated "Harrison Treatment Center." The building looked of relatively recent construction. Trees surrounded the building, almost concealing it and it appeared that there were no other businesses or residences nearby. The area we pulled in was well lit. On one door was written 'New Admissions' while on the other side was written 'Visitors.' I had to wonder what this place was suppose to be. Treatment for what?

The lock beside my door popped on and Crimson told the three SWAT guys, "Help her out." The SWAT guys on the stepped out from the limo on the other side and quickly closed the doors again. I was alone with Crimson. Even though she was a fairly old vampire, she never stopped reminding me on the ride out her, I though I could take her even with my hands cuffed. I could likely use her as a shield to escape. Even though she was invulnerable to normal rounds, they might not truly realize that. Still, there might be a better chance to escape later.

The door beside me opened and all three SWAT guys had their weapons pointed at me. I tried to pretend everything was normal and simply climbed out of the limo. While I climbed out of the limousine, my hands brushed against the big gem on the silver choker I wore.

A moment later, I was joined outside the limo by Crimson. She asked, "I will bet you are wondering what this place is?" I just turned towards her with a neutral expression. She seemed to take that as a yes and responded, "This is a center for mentally handicapped. At least that is what it was opened up as. It was built as a hotel but through some bad investments, it never opened. Even enthralled a few doctors to work here to make it look legitimate. Of course the reality is that we use it as our main source for blood. Unfortunately, we have been running out of patients so we have been picking up the homeless. When they get used up, we have a crematoria to dispose of them. There is a plan to build a new wing for them soon because we are running out of space."

She just kept chatting away, "Actually, at this time of night, they have all be strapped down into their rooms. Don't want them getting into trouble and keeping them restrained makes it easier to drain them. All of the rooms in the building is fully soundproofed. You will not hear anything. They are kept in the upper floors with twenty or so to a room last time I heard." It sounded like they had them in the rooms like sardines.

"Except for the lobby, the lower floors and the basement are our domain. The back area is our Lord's private rooms. Normally, the ball room is used as the main audience chamber but Lord William directed that you be taken to his private audience chamber. We would not want you to get spooked by the crowds."

Crimson lead me into the building with the three SWAT guys right behind, watching for any false step. If I tried to escape, I am sure that I would be on the receiving side of three submachine-guns. In the lobby was a woman dressed in a nurse's uniform. Obviously, the illusion of being a treatment facility was maintained at least in the lobby. She pressed a button on the deck which she sat behind. A buzzing sound was heard and a door near the back of the lobby opened. Crimson ushered me through the door with the guards in faithful attendance.

I was finally ushered into the presence of Lord William. All that can be said is that it is good to be king. The room was as expensively decorated and opulent as anything I had ever seen. The walls were shrouded in curtains and along the walls were precious pieces of art. The floor was covered by a genuine antique Persian rug.

In the back of the room in a chair which could only be called a throne was Lord William himself. He might have had the dusky skin common to those of Hispanic origin but it had faded to almost white over the centuries he had been the Undead. Still, his pale skin did nothing to hide his origins. Perhaps there was a hint of American Indian in his features as well. Surprisingly, he was not all that tall for such a powerful being. He might be an inch or two shorter than me. He was dressed in a modern business suit, not quite black but so dark a gray that it is hard to tell.

Beside him, seated in a pair of antique loungers, was a pair of women who appeared to be from the same homeland as he did. I thought it most likely that they had all come from Mexico originally. While not unattractive, they were not anywhere near the beauty that Crimson. Still there was something about their presence that stated that unlike her, they had real power. They were dressed in simple black dresses.

The human SWAT team members had waited outside of his chambers and only Crimson had entered with me. Lord William locked eyes with the secondary vampire who had brought me and motioned to the door with his right hand and said in a surprisingly melodious voice, "You are dismissed." The voice seemed as if it came from bygone times. Crimson simply curtseyed and quickly exited the vampire lords audience chamber.

The doors closed behind her and Lord William simply looked at me for what seemed like several minutes without speaking. I took a few quick glances around the room and it was as rich as I had though by my first glance, maybe even more so. Still, most of my attention was on him.

Finally he spoke, "Well, my young Wampyr. What am I to do with you. You plan was quite resourceful and might have worked if I had not made allies on the other side. Many masters want to kill one of your kind on sight but I have never cared for wasting those who have shown valuable skills and initiative." His voice was rich and extremely powerful. There was no hint of an accent in his voice, He could almost charm a person without even needing to resort to using his special abilities. As a Wampyr, I was immune to the ability of any vampire exerting mind control but I could still feel his presence.

He continued with, "I have been told by the one who brought you here that you claimed to have been a police officer. Is it true?" He paused as if waiting for an answer.

I did not see any harm in acknowledging him on that and I nodded my head once while replying with a simple "Yes." The best chance seemed to be to stall for time and hope everything breaks even.

"That is even better. As I said, you have many valuable skills. You realize that we are doing a service to humanity. We are cleaning up those who are unable to function in society. They provide us with the blood we need. As well, taking the bums off the street helps keep down crime." His statement was as smooth as any I had heard. I had been told what he just said by others before and it is garbage. Especially after Dark Day, there have been many people who have found themselves on the streets. Bad luck does not mean that you should be turned into food for vampires.

He smiled gently, almost sadly, "We even have similar goals. I believe you told Danielle that if the Nightlords are not defeated, there will be no humans left to sustain us. The Nightbane have clearly shown themselves as being incapable of defeating the Nightlords so it is up to us."I wondered who Danielle was before realizing that must be Crimson's real name.

I finally broke in, "So you are asking me to join in?"

"Yes, young lady. I don't want to have to tell you what the results will be if you do not join us," came his answer. Of course he meant that he would have to kill me. The truth was that Master Vampires are much harder to kill than secondaries and he was rumored to have been a Sorcerer as well. Being in handcuffs also did not help me very much. He added smoothly, "Of course, I always prefer mutual satisfaction. I could spare those who were with you if you explain things properly to them. The SWAT team will not attack until I order it."

"Perhaps we could work out something. I will have to think on it." was my answer. "Perhaps you could answer a curiosity for me?"

Before I could continue he answered, "Hmm, you mean who betrayed you." With my startled expression he continued, "Of course I cannot let you get revenge if you decide to ally yourself with me?" It was obviously a question and I nodded my head in response.

"Dear Cynthia. Sweet Cynthia. Soon after I came into the city, she sought me out. So tired of the mistreatment she was getting by the others. She has been extremely helpful both with dealing with the various factions in the city and in my investment. She arranged for the investments in the hotel which was being built and allow me to buy it for a pittance of what it would have cost otherwise. Keeping the other Nightbane from attacking me was extremely helpful. She even killed several people for me that needed to be gotten rid of who were too hard to get to at night."

I had not wanted to believe that Cynthia was the one who betrayed me but from the beginning she was the most likely candidate. She had the most to gain with her investment and had ordered the other Nightbane to leave the vampires alone. The others just did not seem like the type to have betrayed the others. Phil might be frightened by the vampires and a coward but he seemed genuinely devoted to his lover and not the type to actually betray someone.

He smiled almost a bit dreamily and spoke again, "Cynthia had been desperate to please even to the point of offering her blood. I never knew Nightbane blood could be so potent. Of course you know. That is why you have allied yourself with them. Maybe you are only a half vampire but the thirst always wins." He gave me what I thought was a knowing smile, like we were closer together that I would like to admit. I forced myself to smile back.

A loud crashing could be heard outside. The cavalry had arrived after all. A large half Kodiak Bear / half Human tore down the door of the room. On his shoulder was slug my submachine-guns and a huge single bladed sword was in his hand. Behind the bear came a figure that looked like a Cyborg with a robot arm and a large round protruding eye. Wires ran all over his body and to simply stick in painfully in various random places. Finally, a figure with a tall white hairdo with black lightning bolts slid in behind them. Scars covered an extremely pale, almost white face. Other than having barbed wire covering her arms, she looked liked Frankenstein’s bride from the old movie by the same name.

On the ground were two figures in SWAT body armor. One of them appeared to have been virtually cut in half. From the blood dripping from Kodiak's sword, I considered that it was probably him. Crimson, or Danielle, was nowhere to be seen. Most likely she had fled. I got the feeling that she was not that much of a fighter anyway. The three vampires, including Lord William, seemed stunned by events.

I had to get out of these handcuffs. Turning towards Thomas, I held my hands out in front of me. The great sword swung down between my hands, shearing through the metal almost as if was paper. While the sword went down, I said, "Cynthia betrayed me." The sword had come from the hands of a Night Prince who I had killed a couple of months previously, soon after Thomas and I had met.

Thomas quickly handed me my two MAC-10 submachine-guns. In the few moments it took to do this, the vampires had recovered and we had a fight on our hands. Of course we did not have much time before minions would come to the rescue of their Master. If nothing else, Crimson was probably warning them as she was making her own escape. The Borg and Bride, who I also knew as Becky, had arrived just in time to help us but I had expected the other Nightbane to be on our side.

Borg fired a blast of darkness from his robotic appearing hand at one of the female vampires and it simply spark off a force field a few inches from her. She smiled back and lightning flew from her hands to strike at Borg. Still, it left little more than scorch marks.

The Bride drew her dagger and decided to fight the other female vampire at closer quarters. She swung at the vampire and was able to score a deep slash although the vampire was able to get a deep claw rake in of her own against the Bride.

The master vampire locked eyes with me. I did not give him the time do anything and double tapped both weapons into his chest. I could not afford to continuously spray with them and had set them for single shot. Four silver tipped hollow points imbedded themselves in his chest and he fell slowly. Not quite a perfect shot but I though at least one had lodged in his heart and would prevent him from regenerating. Vampires often underestimate modern technology. Still, it seemed too easy. Especially after the fight the Night Prince had given me. Of course if one of his minions was able to take us down and pull the bullets from his chest, he would rise once more. The two female vampires turned and saw their master go down. Both looked stunned and froze from the shock of the master vampire being dropped.

Not having been idle, Thomas swung his great sword at the female vampire fighting Borg but his sword struck her force field and was partially deflected. She did not even try to dodge due to being thrown off balance by what had just happened to her master. The sparks from his hit showed that it had taken a huge amount of damage. The shield had virtually collapsed and would not hold from another blow.

The Bride and the other female vampire were still fighting, pretty much stalemating each other although the female vampire had been injured far worse. Taking advantage of the stun, the female Nightbane pulled a leg from an antique chair and stabbed it through the heart of the vampire facing her.

Thomas swung again at his opponent and a third swing took off her head at the neck. Before she could regenerate, he grabbed the leg from a table and drove it into her heart. Another antique destroyed but she would not move again if we could prevent it.

Borg looked at me and stated, "Looks like the collar worked out." Just in case something went wrong with cell phone, the Borg had fitted the silver choker with a micro-transmitter which would activate if I pressed the main setting. He was quite an electronic genius and the idea had been a life saver. Him and the Bride had arrived just last night to help if needed.

Thomas walked patiently to Lord William's body and decapitated him as well. He then did the same with the vampire which the Bride had dispatched. The Bride gestured and the whole room started burning. We needed a pyre to burn the bodies and it did not matter who came to investigate this time.

The SWAT guy which Thomas had slashed in half still had my Colt Forty-Five. As we tried to make our escape, I slid the pistol back into its shoulder holster. Unfortunately, my wooden tonfa was on the floor of the limo. After a few moments of consideration, I decided to grab his body armor as well. After stripping the armor off of him, I quickly slid off my trench coat and shoulder holster and began shrugging on his armor on. While a little large for me, It was a good armor vest, able to protect against even rifle rounds and had plates to protect against stabbing weapons as well.

We still needed to see if we could rescue the others and confront Cynthia. If we hurried, we should be able to get there before the other Nightbane were ambushed. I briefly considered calling them on their cell phone but that might give a warning to Cynthia and allow her to escape.

I emptied both magazines for my MAC-10 submachine-guns filled with silver tipped hollow points pretty quickly on the way out of the building. After I ran out of silver ammo, the Bride enchanted both of my submachine-guns so that they would still be effective. Often, I would shoot the vampires and then one of the others would stake them and lop off their heads. As well, a single swing of Thomas would general slice a vampire in half. We much have taken down over one hundred, maybe one hundred and fifty vampires before we were able to escape the clinic. I probably can claim several dozen myself. Some of the vampires which we had staked might recover although we had smashed in as many windows as we could so hopefully sunlight will do in many of them in.

In the end, the remaining vampires fled, maybe a couple of dozen or so total. Even so, the continuous fighting had taken its toll. Being attacked by a dozen or more vampires at a time makes it impossible to avoid getting hurt. Our healing abilities had kept up mobile but all four of us had numerous claw and bite marks from the attacks of the vampires. Thomas was the least hurt of all of us. In most cases, the vampires had kept their distance from him because of his huge sword.

I was limping from a deep slash in my leg. As well, the left sleeve of my trench coat was shredded from me parrying multiple vampire's claws. To be honest, my cloths were pretty much in tatters where they were not protected by the body armor I pulled off the body of the SWAT guy who had my pistol. I had not taken the time to take the broken handcuff halves from my wrists. While it would be nice to get them off, they could wait.

My plan at this stage was to see if we could rescue the others and with their help return to try and clean out as many of the remaining vampires as possible including destroying any underground lairs. Hopefully the vampires who had fled would not return before we could come back and finish off the others. There was a strong possibility that they would try to get to safe houses and not return. It was very unlikely that we would get them all but if we shattered them after killing their leaders, we should be able to defeat them bit by bit. The inmates also needed to be rescued as well but they were not in danger from the SWAT teams at present.

Of course, revenge on Cynthia was also on my mind. I wanted to confront her so bad. Various ideas of what I would do to her drifted into my mind. She had been working with the Master Vampire for months and she was likely how the first group had been ambushed even though he had told me directly. How long had she been planning to betray the other Nightbane.

We burst out of the front doors. Thomas had parked his old Bronco a bit away from the building but I saw that the limo was just pulling away. I leaped with all my might and landed on top of the trunk and began climbing my way to the rear window. Holding on the edge of the trunk lid with my left hand, I began punching at the window with the right. It took several blows but the window shattered under my fist. Crimson was inside. Shocked green eyes looked onto mine. I saw fear.

"Hi, Danielle." I spoke as I brought the 1911 up with my right hand and put a pair of silver tipped hollow points into her heart.

I thought we would have to fight a couple of dozen SWAT personnel to rescue the other Nightbane but I was wrong. Figuring out where to go was simple. All we had to do was follow the locator signal in the cell phone. Thomas had one locator device while Phil carried the other one.

The decoy carrying the cell phone was in an old abandoned warehouse on the other side of the city to the clinic that the master vampire used as his domicile. The warehouse was surrounded by overgrown growth and the area around the building was a dumping ground, much of it rusting metal. Boarded up, the building was wooden and addition to the ancient paint peeling badly, it looked like the warehouse was sagging badly.

We came racing onto the scene in the stolen limo only to find that the SWAT teams were simply wandering around in confusion. They did not even know what they were doing here. It made sense in retrospect but I had not considered it initially. The vampires who had held them in thrall had all been killed and the mind control that they were under vanished with the vampires' deaths

Cynthia was with the others, as if getting ready to attack. Probably she planned to slip away just before the SWAT teams attacked. Her Nightbane form is almost that of angel but with black crow like wings. I yelled, "Traitor" and she turned. I could see shock in her eyes. It was obvious that she did not expect to see me alive. I brought my MAC-10 submachine-guns up but a black swirling disk appeared beside her and she jumped through before I could even fire. Thomas told me later that some Nightbane have the ability to teleport. With her magical reserves, she would be hundreds of miles according to Thomas. I had to wonder if and when I would encounter her again.

In the aftermath of the breaking of the bonds with the vampires who held them in thrall, the minds of the SWAT team personnel were extremely open to suggestion. It was a simply task for me to use suggestion to tell them that they should simply go home and go to bed. If the master vampire had held the chief of police in thrall like the SWAT team was, he might very well be extremely confused and the entire police force might be paralyzed as a result.

Fighting against time, all of us raced back to the clinic before any of the surviving vampires returned. I ran several red lights in an effort to cut our time further. So the others could maintain their Nightbane forms, I drove the limousine back as I had driven here in the first place. Thomas explained what had happened to the others while I drove at breakneck speeds. Actually it was more like a quick sum up of what had happened. They expressed shock when he told them about how Cynthia had betrayed them. They had delayed their attack because the did not know what happened to Thomas and they decided to wait a few more minutes for him.

All was quiet when we arrived at the clinic and got started working right away. With the twelve of us, we could have fought off any vampires much easier than when it was just the four of us. None returned though. We systematically went through the building floor by floor. The vampires were easy to deal with. We simply laid their bodies outside with the head separate from the body. The rising sun would finish them off. We destroyed the underground lair under the building.

It was hard to decide to do with the vampires' prisoners. Even the ones who had been sane before their ideal began were in extremely rough shape. Being strapped to a bed and having your blood drained constantly will do that to just about anybody. The rooms were filthy and if anything they were more crammed in than Crimson had told me. In the end we decide that we could do was free those who could still wall and hope for the best. There was nothing we could do to help them beyond that.

Finally, the first rays of the sun rose above the horizon. As the sun hit the first of the bodies, they burst into flames. Wrapped in a blanket, I was spared the worst effects of the sun. Although I could not completely protect myself from the sun rising, I wanted to see the vampire bodies burn. In moments, the bodies became little more than ash. The Nightbane who lived in the city would try and take care of the remaining vampires. The rest of us would leave town today. The four of us loaded into the beat up Ford Bronco, I crawled completely under a pile of blankets in the back. I was asleep in moments.

[ Nightbane® is a registered trademark owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc.]

By Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2006, Kitsune. All rights reserved.